Skip to main content

Another 6 Easy Tips to Overcome Anxiety

When anxiety strikes, you need fast relief. Here are six ways to tame your anxiety, without medication or a doctor's office visit.

By Kathleen Doheny

Medically Reviewed by Michael Cutler, DO, PhD

The smell of lavender can quickly relieve anxiety.Shutterstock
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the U.S., affecting about one out of five people at any given time, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Anxiety can take many forms — generalized anxiety disorder (constant worrying about everyday things), obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder.

While medications to treat these anxiety conditions are often an important component in the management of anxiety, there is also many natural, do-it-yourself techniques that can help calm you down, either in place of medications or as a supplement to them.

Next time you're too tense to cope, consider trying one of these natural options for relief.

1. Laugh it off. Cultivate a good sense of humor and laugh, says  Karen Lynn Cassiday, PhD, president-elect of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and a clinical psychologist in Chicago.  "Even if you do a fake laugh, you get an instant hit of dopamine," says Dr. Cassiday. Dopamine is a brain chemical that controls feelings of reward and pleasure.

If you're too tense to laugh on your own, try using technology, she suggests. For example, find a laugh track phone app. Just google phone apps for laughing.

In a study presented at a medical meeting, Loma Linda University researchers found that even anticipating a mirthful laugh reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which increases when you are anxious.

2. Schedule relaxation. "Sit down and look at your schedule," says Katherine Raymer, MD, ND, associate clinical professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University, Seattle.

"Is there a time to put in a half hour to do whatever you do that is relaxing?" Dr. Raymer asks. That can be a walk, meditation, yoga, tai chi or anything you find relaxing.

Researchers trying to help shy men with social anxiety found that a period of relaxation helped them, lowering their heart rates after they interacted with people.

3. Take GABA. The supplement GABA, sold online and in health food stores, may help calm anxious people, Raymer says.

Short for gamma-aminobutyic acid, GABA is a brain transmitter that counteracts the action of another neurotransmitter, glutamate that increases your excitability.

Researchers found that individuals who ate chocolate enriched with GABA before tackling an arithmetic task were less stressed after completing it than those who didn't have the GABA-infused chocolate.

It is important to remember that supplements such as GABA can interact with medications, so it's crucial to check in with your doctor before taking them on your own, she says. "Get your doctor's permission, even if you are not taking other medication.”

4. Try lavender. Try lavender essential oil to calm yourself, Raymer says. "We have people put a drop of it on their collarbone," she says. "The smell wafts up. The odor is very relaxing." Or, you can rub it gently into your temple, she saw

In a 2012 study of women anxious about having a medical procedure, researchers found that those who inhaled lavender a half hour before the procedure were calmer than those who did not.

Again, don’t forget to check first with your doctor before using the essential oil lavender, Raymer says.

5. Ground yourself. When anxiety hits, ''do something tangible," says John Tsilimparis, MFT, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Pepperdine University.

"Take your house keys out, run your fingers along the keys," says Tsilimparis. "That sensation will give you 'grounding.' Pick up a paperweight, hold it in your hand. Or, get an ice cube. Hold it as long as you

can do it."

Why does this work? "Your brain can't be in two places at once," he says. The activity distracts you from the anxious feelings. "Your mind will shift from racing, catastrophic thoughts [that accompany anxiety] to the cold ice cube in your hand," he says.

According to some research, using a virtual reality distraction system can reduce anxiety during dental procedures. Patients immersed in VR — a computer-generated realistic environment — reported less pain and anxiety than when they didn't use it.

6. Face the fear. "If something makes you scared, face it," says Cassiday. If you feel shy, go out to social functions, she says. Scared of clowns? Go to the circus.

It can help, too, to understand that when you worry about what might happen — such as no one will talk to you at the party — your anxiety just rises. Your anxious worry is about the uncertainty, she says. "What a worrier really wants is a promise that everything is going to be OK.''

But uncertainty is part of life, she says. Exposure therapy, or facing the fear, helps you learn to live with risk and uncertainty.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

People with depression use language differently – here’s how to Find it

From the way you move and sleep, to how you interact with people around you, depression changes just about everything. It is even noticeable in the way you speak and express yourself in writing. Sometimes this “language of depression” can have a powerful effect on others. Just consider the impact of the poetry and song lyrics of Sylvia Plath and Kurt Cobain, who both killed themselves after suffering from depression.

Scientists have long tried to pin down the exact relationship between depression and language, and technology is helping us get closer to a full picture. Our new study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, has now unveiled a class of words that can help accurately predict whether someone is suffering from depression.

Traditionally, linguistic analyses in this field have been carried out by researchers reading and taking notes. Nowadays, computerised text analysis methods allow the processing of extremely large data banks in minutes. This can help spot linguistic fea…

The Moral Logic of Survivor Guilt

Nancy Sherman Ph.D.Stoic Warrior

The Moral Logic of Survivor Guilt

If there is one thing we have learned from returning war veterans

Posted Jul 20, 2011

Source:

If there is one thing we have learned from returning war veterans - especially those of the last decade - it's that the emotional reality of the soldier at home is often at odds with that of the civilian public they left behind. And while friends and families of returning service members may be experiencing gratefulness or relief this summer, many of those they've welcomed home are likely struggling with other emotions.

High on that list of emotions is guilt. Soldiers often carry this burden home-- survivor guiltbeing perhaps the kind most familiar to us. In war, standing here rather than there can save your life but cost a buddy his. It's flukish luck, but you feel responsible. The guilt begins an endless loop of counterfactuals-thoughts that you could have or should have done otherwise, though in fact you did nothing w…

5 Psychological Theories about Motivation to Improve Lifestyle & Productivities

We all want to be more productive but getting motivated enough to actually get things done can seem impossible.

Social scientists have been studying motivation for decades, trying to find out what motivates our behaviour, how and why.

Dozens of theories of motivation have been proposed over the years. Here are 5 popular theories of motivation that can help you increase workplace productivity…

1. Hertzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

The Two-Factor Theory of motivation(otherwise known as dual-factor theory or motivation-hygiene theory) was developed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in the 1950s.

Analysing the responses of 200 accountants and engineers who were asked about their positive and negative feelings about their work, Herzberg found 2 factors that influence employee motivation and satisfaction…

1. Motivator factors – Simply put, these are factors that lead to satisfaction and motivate employees to work harder. Examples might include enjoying your work, feeling recognised and career progres…